KARACHI - Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik Monday directed the police and Rangers to immediately start operation against the extortionists, saying that both the forces would be seen in action against extortionists from today.

He was addressing a press briefing here at Chief Minister House after holding an important meeting on law & order situation and activities of extortion mafia in the metropolis. Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan, Sindh IG Mushtaq Shah and other officials were also present there.

Rehman Malik said that an Anti-Extortion Act would be brought soon after passing a law against extortionists. He announced that extortion would be a non-bailable crime and seven-year prison sentence would be awarded to extortionist under the said act to curb the rising incidents of extortion in the metropolis. He further said that an Anti-Extortion Cell was being giving extension immediately with the formation of a team based on police officers of DIG rank, members from ISI, IB and FIA. “Traders community had complained that they found no police officer in the station, whenever they contacted. In order to tackle this situation, a new office of anti-Extortionist SHO has been made in every police station which would deal only extortion issues,” he said. The Interior Minister assured that operation against extortionists would be conducted without any discrimination, adding that media men would also be on the spot where operation is to be conducted.

Rehman Malik said an operation would also be launched against those who were selling snatched mobile phones in the city and disclosed that more than 2 million mobile SIMs had already been reactivated after being jammed by the cell phone companies. He appealed to the traders to avoid purchasing mobiles from any doubtful persons and whosoever (purchaser or seller) is caught while violating the order, would be tried under Anti-Terrorism Act. He said the terrorism case would be lodged against those who would be found guilty of selling or purchasing stolen mobile phones.

About the ongoing police and Rangers action in Lyari against criminal elements, Rehman Malik affirmed that writ of the government “will be established in Lyari and every part of the country at any cost”.

On a query, he declared that the protest of MQM and business community of Karachi against “extortion” (Bhatta) was correct. Answering a question he lashed out at the opposition for protesting during President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to the joint parliament session on Saturday, and appealed to the Supreme Court to take a suo moto notice of ‘derogatory remarks’ used against the president by the opposition leaders.